Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes

When reading this post I have to admit I would forgive you for thinking I was lacking a bit on the imagination front: while dark chocolate and raspberry is a delicious flavour combo, it isn’t actually anything new. But you know the saying, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

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Vegan Peanut and Date Breakfast Muffins

Although it is a little late (I 100% blame numerical reasoning tests and my decreasing ability to count), I am continuing with the health kick trend in preparation for my tough mudder (which is now only a few weeks away) with my offering of vegan peanut and date breakfast muffins. Again it is debatable whether they can really be deemed healthy as the no refined sugar attempts have been firmly kicked to the curb, but I thought they would provide an interesting breakfast alternative without packing in too many calories.

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Orange and Blueberry Madeira Cake

Since a few of my previous posts have not gone exactly to plan, I decided to go for something a lot more simple this week. I think my parents were thankful for something a bit more familiar; although they have enjoyed some of my bakes, they are sticklers for a more traditional Victoria sponge and haven’t exactly relished in the amount of cardamom etc. flying around. So I’m hoping orange and blueberry is a safer bet. Continue reading “Orange and Blueberry Madeira Cake”

Cloud Catcher Cakes

Even though I claimed in my last post for lemon and aronia berry iced biscuits that I was not going to follow the bake off this post also took ideas from the technical challenge of cake week, jaffa cakes. Chocolate orange has to be one of my favourite flavour combinations and, unsurprisingly, jaffa cakes are definitely one of my first choices when tucking up with a cup of tea in front of Pointless (Yes, I mainly watch pointless as an excuse for tea and biscuits; no, I am not secretly in my 50’s).Therefore, when I made my own a few years ago I hate to admit they weren’t as good as the shop bought ones, purely because I think they are pretty hard to beat! Therefore, I thought putting a spin on them would, in theory, be a really good way of fixing something that isn’t broken. Continue reading “Cloud Catcher Cakes”

Charlie’s Leaving Cake

I never normally need an excuse for making cake, but when your best friend decides she’s moving half way across the world for at least a year I think I’ll take one this time! I’m not normally softie, nor do I normally post things like this on any kind of social media but I have to admit I will really miss her! Charlie is moving to Japan to teach English in Sasebo and I know she will have an amazing time. I’ve known her since we were 1 and we have been best friends pretty much ever since. She is so incredibly special to me and has always been there for me, so obviously I am so proud of her (and maybe just a little bit jealous)! But since I have just finished my face for her make up and pyjama party and don’t want to ruin it before I get there so I’ll move swiftly on! Instead I will take solace in the fact that, as inspired by her saving £2 coins for her whole time at Uni to buy a pair of Louboutins for graduation, I have started collecting mine to pay for some flights to visit next easter (the £26 I have so far will make a little scratch if nothing else!).

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My thing when it comes to any kind of birthday is, unsurprisingly, making the cake. I always make an extra effort with Charlie and Lauren (the standard three musketeer style thing), so this time I decided to push myself. I was even scared of the icing! However, being modest as always, it actually turned out really well! I didn’t embark on anything really out there in terms of flavours: everything was pretty much vanilla apart from the raspberry jam I whacked in the middle layer. So this time I won’t bore you with any recipes as they were all pretty standard. Any basic Victoria sponge recipe will do and I bought the jam from the supermarket so I can’t give you any wizened knowledge there (not that I have any to begin with!). In the past I have always used the buttercream I’ve talked about in some of my previous blog posts including the turkish delight cupcakes (or anything similar), but have always found it never goes on that evenly when you are trying to create a smooth finish. I took my inspiration for the cake from The Bake Co’s Instagram page as I absolutely love the simplicity of their designs, so a flawless finish was pretty important. I chose Martha Stewart’s Recipe for Swiss Meringue Buttercream and it turned out really nicely. The texture was a lot lighter and more delicate, but still stiff enough to hold it’s shape if you get it right. I used this on the inside of the layers (of which I did 3 in a 20cm cake tin) and to both crumb coat the cake and finish it with a final layer. I only used one lot of the recipe and it managed to do all of this, fill the macarons and add a little extra decoration on the top, so it goes a long way too!

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For the decorations I picked up some cafe curls, some white chocolate lindors and some flowers to arrange on the top with the vanilla macarons which I made in three different sizes for some variation. I also bought some sprayed roses and some gypsophila to use since cherry blossoms unfortunately weren’t an option.

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I also made my own chocolate bark merely by melting some white chocolate, swirling through some pink food colouring and chucking on some edible pearl decorations. However, if you do the same I would recommend that colour some of the chocolate with the food colouring and swirl that through and that it is really firmly set before you break it into chunks. I’m taking the standard British approach and blaming the rare occasion of warm weather for it being slightly soft! I then built all these up around one edge of the cake, piped on some pink icing and chucked on a couple more pearls before deciding that I should call it quits before I ruined it!

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And there you have it! The cake did cause me slightly less trauma than I expected so that was one thing that I was certainly happy about, but it went down really well! Charlie and the girls all seemed to absolutely love it and although it does look a bit like a wedding cake, I think it has a good balance of intricacy and simplicity. They could tell that I had put a lot of effort in, even though it was subtle. So, in my true nature, I am taking it as a compliment and rolling with it.

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Luckily for me I managed to pinch a slice to take away before I left. The cake was really nice and moist and although the icing was quite sweet it was incredibly soft and delicate, so I would strongly recommend using it if you were ever trying to create a similar effect. I am still waiting to hear back from Charlie herself on if she likes it, but in fairness to her there was a lot of amazing food so even I wasn’t rushing to cut into it! On the plus side I did manage to get the cutest picture of her with the cake in her fabulous koala bear onesie, so I’ll post that instead to embarrass her as another ‘good luck’ from me!

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Dandelion and Burdock Loaf Cake

Although dandelion and burdock is quite traditional in Britain, being drank as a light mead in the Middle Ages, it is something I tried only last week. Although it looks like it might be quite a heavy drink, the floral tones mean it is actually lighter and sweeter than I expected. Since I seemed to be on a roll with my unusual flavour pairings (as with my lemon and earl grey caramel shortbreads) I thought why not continue the theme? Continue reading “Dandelion and Burdock Loaf Cake”

Wasabi Blondies

I will admit that I fully understand any scepticism towards this recipe. My decision to order a chocolate and wasabi cake to curb my sweet tooth in Wagamamas a few years ago was met with the same reserve. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t normally put these flavours together.However providing you are careful with the amount of wasabi you use, I think it works quite well.

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